If you want to be a logo designer, there are a number of tools you will need before you can get started.
Most homes now have computers, and almost everyone has pen and paper, so in most cases you can start designing logos without the need to spend much money (if any). Below is a summary of the things you will need to get started.
Sketchpad, Pens & Pencils
Although mainly associated with business, at its heart Logo design is an art-form. It requires creativity, imagination and skill. The final results will be developed on a computer, however the idea generation process will be done on paper. You will need a sketchpad (or piece of paper), pencils and pens to brainstorm ideas and explore concepts.
A Good Computer
One of the most important tools you will need is a computer. The exact type will depend on your budget and preferences, however luckily vector software is not too processor heavy, therefor the average computer will do the job.
The main thing I would advise is to have a good size screen (at least 20 inch), since you will need zoom in to see and modify artwork as you work on it.
Personally I have 2 computers. One is a 24 inch, desktop iMac which I have set up in my office, and the second is a 15 inch MacBook which I use when I want to travel. I purchased mine second-hand through eBay and got a good price for both by waiting a few weeks to watch and monitor the prices so I knew when I had a bargain – it’s possible to get the previous generation in perfect condition, and save yourself hundreds of pounds.
You will quickly learn that most graphic designers prefer Apple computers over other options, but any PC with a decent spec will be sufficient.
Vector Graphics Software
Once you have a computer, you will also need software. For logo design you will need a vector graphics editor such as Adobe Illustrator.
Graphic design software can be represented in two ways. Either Raster graphics or Vector graphics. Raster graphics packages, such as Photoshop, are based on pixels therefor when scaled up they loose clarity and become blocky, whilst vector graphics are based on paths, points, lines, cures and shapes using mathematical equations, which mean they can be scaled indefinitely without any loss of quality.
The industry standard vector graphics software is Adobe Illustrator, therefor should be the software of choice for a serious logo designer. This is however quite an expensive option if you are just starting out. Fortunately there are a number of free options available, such as Inkscape, which also have good resources available to help you learn to use it.
Other vector graphic editors are available, and are reviewed on this useful blog from smashing magazine: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/12/05/20-vector-graphic-editors-reviewed/
A Desk & Chair
Once you have your computer you will need somewhere to work. You will need a nice sized desk with enough space for your computer and a sketchpad, as well as a comfortable chair to sit in. If you plan to become a full time logo designer, this is where you will spend most of your time so choose the best you can afford.
If you plan to spend a lot of time at the computer, please make sure to understand the risks involved with RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). I’ve seen the outcome of RSI, and it can lead to long-term health problems – the individual involved couldn’t work with computers for years afterwards, and had problems finding a job that didn’t use them… If this was you, say goodbye to your career as an identity designer.
Advice to reduce the risks of RSI can be found here: http://www.chairoffice.co.uk/blog/74/reducing-the-risk-of-repetitive-strain-injury-rsi.aspx
Knowledge: Read, Learn & Live
Unfortunately Logo design isn’t just about making a pretty picture. A good designer will learn to understand the business its designed for, and the audience it aims to target, and make concise design choices based on this knowledge. You will spend most of your time learning and researching, therefor the more you know, the better your designs will become.
The best way to learn is through reading and doing. There are some superb books from design masters throughout history, however as an identity designer almost anything you learn in life will contribute to your work. Understanding branding and business will become essential, and more importantly, understanding people and the connections they make with the world, and what influences their perceptions will be even more valuable to the design decisions you make.
Once you have the tools needed, you can start your journey to learn logo design.
Here’s a few books I recommended to learn logo design: